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Guest: Daniel Suarez; Topics: Daniel's new science fiction novel, "Delta-v." deep space mining, space economics, commercial space, policy and regulations, government space activities, risk taking, lunar return, Mars and much much more.
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We welcomed Daniel Suarez to the show to discuss his new book, "Delta-v" which has just been released effective Tuesday, April 23, 2019. We started our one segment 87 minute discussion with our guest explaining both his interest in space and asteroid mining, both of which led him to writing "Delta-v" which is the first book of his planned trilogy on the subject. While the book is science fiction, our guest did extensive research on near-Earth asteroid mining so the story he tells is very realistic. As you listen to our discussion, you will understand that this is not just another good sci-fi book but a very real and comprehensive space mining discussion. For example, we discussed why a near-Earth asteroid and not the Moon or Mars. Daniel selected Ryugu for the asteroid for very important reasons which he explained early in our discussion. Our discussion also focused on why a human crew and not robotics, why teams and why the special spacecraft design which he talked about in detail We covered government programs as compared to commercial investments and operations, regulations, risk taking, policy, the activities of foreign space agencies and governments, why a Mars settlement was less than favorably viewed by the crew in the story, the problem with rockets and gravity well locations, augmented reality spacecraft control functions as compared to old fashioned controls that would add lots of unwanted mass to the spacecraft, social and psychological crew issues and much more.
One thing we discussed was the focus on the background of the crew which was very diverse and not space experienced. One example of this focus included questions on the protagonist in the early part of the book who was a cave diver. I asked Daniel many questions about this given my own personal scuba background which included some cave diving. Don't miss this discussion as you will hear why cave diving was relevant to the asteroid mining business concept. Let us know your thoughts on this by posting on our blog.
Listeners sent in several emails covering many topics. Examples of listener email questions ranged from why an asteroid instead of the nearby Moon, why not start with robots instead of humans, crew training for long duration spaceflight missions, crew personal dynamics for a long space mission, why asteroid mining was important, and why not bring the products back to Earth instead of keeping them in space and off-Earth for use in space. Listeners were very interested in the fact that the crew remained onboard the spacecraft which was orbiting Ryugu in a close orbit. While the crew could do EVAs, much of what they would be doing was by close in and low latency telepresence activity. Listen to Daniel explain this and then once again, let us know what you think by posting on our blog.
The issue of space property rights came up as listener Karen wanted to know how our guest handled the subject in the book. Daniel talked about space attorneys, said the space legal profession was a growing field of importance and then he talked about property rights which were important in his story. I followed up Karen's question with one of my own regarding benefit sharing for the mining operation. Be sure to hear what Daniel had to say about benefit sharing.
Personal and social dynamics plus life support issues were of interest to many of our listeners. Daniel researched and talked about these matters in his story which made the story very realistic and plausible. Another listener wanted to know why he was using AR (augmented reality) for spaceship controls so this subject came up a few times during our discussion. Don't miss his reasoning for why the AR as compared to tradition spacecraft control systems. I even asked about this. It was interesting hearing what he had to say about the added mass for traditional controls as compared to AR and virtual spacecraft controls. Clearly using AR, one could have many more valuable items of mass needed for the mission if the mass was not needed for wiring and control systems.
Near the end of our program, I asked Daniel what he thought a plausible timeline would look like for real asteroid mining. Don't miss his reply. We then discussed the plans for his series trilogy using rive year increments. I asked our guest if Book One would be totally outdated by the time he did Book Three given anticipated progress and evolution in systems, hardware and technology. Daniel provided us with a very interesting response to this question including how he had managed the first book and the plans so that Book One ended up doing a good job of taking us into the future.
As the program ended, we talked about Daniel's upcoming book tour and his speaking to general audiences about this subject as compared to space audiences. Daniel talked about the book "The High Frontier" and O'Neill's work plus he referenced the Overview Effect. He told us how to find him on his book tour and how to get autographed copies of the book. This information has also been posted on our blog for this show.
Please post your comments/questions for Daniel on our blog. You can reach him through me and his website https://daniel-suarez.com.